First Person 911 Pt. 4
Producer Luke Joerger
PBS Reel New York, ARD German TV, NY Underground FF, Ocularis FF, Manchester FF
From NY Press: Next come fear and awe: A young father taping the collapse of the first tower from the roof of his apartment building has to be cajoled into retreat by his wife; standing in an elevator, he lets the camera dangle limply, taping his own shoes as he stammers, "Holy shit, man." In "First Person 911," a couple of young black men walking through ash-choked streets near Ground Zero recite a laundry list of foreign and domestic enemies, each of which has a specific grievance against the United States. "The government knows what's going on," says one, "and it's up to them to rectify their mistakes."
From The NY Times: Traveling on in-line skates through the city that day and night and the next day, camera in hand, Mr. Mendez filtered horror through a poet's soul. He made his way into ground zero and Battery Park City, capturing the otherworldly vision of rescue workers trudging through the wreckage, their faces hidden by masks. Trucks cart their dismal cargo; a woman's dressy sandal rests on a carpet of grim dust. These ghostly images convey the feeling of the aftermath of a terrible storm.
From The Village Voice: The opener on this Friday's program, First Person 911, uses in-the-moment footage from three artists who were camcorder-ready. Anthony Paris is taping his wife and new baby when suddenly we're on their roof looking at the smoking towers just a couple of blocks away. Paris doesn't believe his wife when she says she saw someone fall. He continues in this-can't-be-happening mode with the declaration "I don't think the building will collapse." Soon they're making a numb getaway through the white ash.
Luke Jude Joerger is wailing while he shoots from a window at the Chelsea Hotel: "That is so fucked up! Oh God, that's horrible!" He's watching it live, then running to a television that is already replaying the moment of impact as Joerger screams, "Oh my God! How horrible! Fuck you!" Ray Mendez makes his way into an eerie Ground Zero that night, capturing its feverish activity and preternatural stillness: shoes in the rubble, exhausted rescue workers, someone carried out in a body bag, a musician who's appointed himself to sit there and play his cello.
This film adds raw emotional content to images that are now very familiar. That's the key. Nothing here is canned. These are films about people trying to get their minds around this catastrophe, asking questions about the knee-jerk nationalist response, and coping with loss.
From Indywire: The centerpiece of the collection was Luke Joerger and Ray Mendez's "First Person 911." The film simply presents home video taken on the day of the attacks and accurately captures what it was like to be a New Yorker on September 11, instantly connecting the viewer with familiar emotions better than any newscast or polished documentary ever could.